From the Dining Critic's Notebook

From the Dining Critic’s Notebook: Sushi Bar at Nobu

My favorite special is the hard-to-find torched yuba with caviar.

Nobu should not be overlooked, though it can be by Dallasites. It’s niched in a hotel and has the whiff of the corporate, and should you forget as you settle into the enchanted birch-wood grove, dimly and dramatically lit, an obnoxious group at the bar may sometimes remind you. But I could write an ode to the beef tataki, one of the excellent Kobe A-5 Wagyu offerings on a menu. And I love to simply perch at the sushi counter, where they have one of my favorite specials in the city.

Yuba, tofu skin, is a wrinkly thing, mild and clean in flavor. Nobu’s yuba with caviar is torched and presented on little spoons with tofu crema, a sliver of avocado, and caviar. It’s a beautiful composition, subtle in its shades of sable and cream, like natural muslin. And the flavors are a study in the Japanese appreciation for soy. I find it hard to say why I love it so much, but it has to do with the tenderness of the yuba, the completeness of the composition, and the kiss of citrus yuzu that’s so subtle. I marvel every time.

Generally, Nobu’s sushi is very good, the fish breathtakingly fresh, the sushi chefs serious about what they do and practiced in their gestures. They will have varieties of toro—oily and less oily. Kanpachi, beautiful, silky and firm. Yes, there will be a king crab tempura roll, with truffle aioli and pecans, wrapped in a cucumber wrapper and topped with gold flakes. “Too rich for me,” my sushi chef confides one evening. “Very American.” He laughs. A server approaches him. Can table so-and-so order toro tartare with edible gold flake on top? The answer: a nod. No extra charge for the gold flake. At Nobu the price is high already. If gold leaf makes them happy …

Yuba with caviar and tofu crema at Nobu. (Photo by Eve Hill-Agnus.)